Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Uganda. Holiday Febuary 2022. Qatar Airways Entebbe to Doha to Manchester

 7th February 2022 

Today we used good tar roads all the way from Lake Albert, through the -oil- booming town of Hoima to Entebbe. Back to the Best Western Premier Garden Inn.

The car was returned as efficiently as it had been dropped off. 

We spent the rest of our time exploring Entebbe. Sampling Rolexes, and other eating places 





Going shopping for fabric in Kampala and chilling out by the pool at the hotel. 

To leave Uganda we had to have a Covid PCR test, and had this done at a local clinic. It was Negative so on the 12th February 2022 was were ready to get Qatar Airways fight QR 1384 from Entebbe to Doha. We checked in at 15.30 and left at 18.30 on an Airbus 330 with  lie flat seats in business class.  In Doha we had a very short connection time to the next flight QR 21 Doha to Manchester - the flight was packed- This was the 777 Q Suites again. I slept all the way home. 

Thoughts.

Originally I had planned a two centre holiday. Gorillas in Uganda then beach in Kenya or Zanzibar. But the working out what was needed for Covid testing for each country was complicated. Also, the flight schedules had been reduced so I decided to stay in Uganda. 

Uganda seemed like a very safe country. The people were welcoming and friendly and we did not encounter any begging or harassment.  Self driving was very easy. Good roads, good road signs and lots of petrol stations. It was a great holiday in the sun whilst the UK was still cloaked in winter, expensive, (thanks to UWA) but good!

Uganda Self Drive, Murchison River Lodge, Budongo Forest and Lake Albert. Ugandan Wildlife Authority FEES ???? February 2022

5th February 2022
Had an early start on the river as we did the Delta Tour. The levels of the Victoria Nile River have risen and this has changed the eco system of this part of the river. The Swamp plants have been swept away, so the Shoebill is no longer seen in this area. The tour company do not make you aware of this. We did see lots of Hippos and other birds. 
Murchison River Lodge was a very busy lodge. Very well equipped and laid out. The beds were no better than Bwana Tembo, the bathrooms were worse- porta potty- and the food was not really very good, but Lunch was better than dinner. The bar was good and the alcohol a fair price.  
Murchison River Lodge 

Murchison River Lodge 

Murchison River Lodge 
In the late afternoon we went on a boat ride to the base of Murchison Falls; we went on the Ugandan Wildlife Authority boat. 


Then drove up to the top of the falls.




The top of the falls was far more impressive that the view from the river. 
I had asked the staff at the lodge about Chimp tracking in this area. But they were not at all helpful with this request- saying it was miles away and I would have to  go at 06.00 and drive in the dark. So I gave up on that idea. 
6th February 2022
Today we thought we would go to Lake Albert Lodge. As we drove out of the park, we passed a small sign for 'Chip Tracking' and called in. This was Budongo Eco Lodge - on line it says this is closed, but it is not. It is open. 
There was a guide available to take us into the forest and after a short walk we saw the Chimps, at first high in the trees then down on the ground. It was a really special experience. 
Chimps in the Budongo Forest 

Budongo Forest 


Budongo Forest 


Budongo Forest Eco Lodge 2022 

As we drove out of the park- the fee issue raised its head again. Evidently we were 15 minuets over our 24 hour permit. This was due to the Chimp trekking - cost to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) US $ 145.00 each. Following a long discussion we were granted permission to leave with out paying another days park fees- as a favour! Ugandan Wildlife Authority were doing very well out of us! and this wasn't the end of it! 
We got to the place where Albert Lake Lodge was situated at about 16.30. to find it was in a UWA park. To get to the lodge we were asked to pay US $ 90.00 and US $30.00 for the car. By this time I did not have any money left and the UWA card machine was not working so I was unable to pay this fee. After a long- very long discussion, I said I would pay at the lodge with their card machine, or get money from the ATM at the Lodge and pay on the way out. 
Lake Albert Lodge.
Situated high above the lake, with spacious rooms and a fabulous bed this should have been an amazing three day relaxation time. Sadly, there was no manager to check us in or tell us the tariff. None of the staff had this information. There were thousands of Lake Flies, Mozzies and 
House Flies. So many that we could not venture outside to use the pool / boma or enjoy the surroundings. We decided to leave the next day.



It was such a shame. As we left the park, I asked  the Police Officer on the gate if the card machine was working as that I had to go to pay the fees.
He looked very puzzled and told me not to worry about that and have a nice day! We did! 

Self Drive Tour of Uganda. February 2022. Murchison Falls National Park

 2nd February 2022
The car that was hired yesterday arrived at the hotel at 07.00. No paperwork necessary- just  Whats App contact details. 
We were on the road at about 09.00, driving on the new toll road out of Entebbe, around Kampala, going North to Murchison Falls National Park. 
There was a bit of concern as the first Shell Garage in Entebbe did not have fuel, but Total did so we filled up there. 
Rental Car Uganda Feb 2022

At Karumba Bridge, Uganda 
The road conditions were really good and despite a stop at the overrated Kabalega Diner we made really good progress - until about halfway down the tar road from Karuma Bridge to Pakwach. At that point the road disintegrated and there were more pot holes than road. 
We arrived at Bwana Tembo Safari Camp at about 16.00. 
Bwana Tembo Safari Camp was great. It is really close to the Tangi River Wetland and the Tangi Gate into the Murchison Falls National Park. 

Bwana Tembo Safari Camp , on the road to Pakwach
The manager, Jimmy gave us a choice of a tent of a hut. We chose the hut as it had a fan. The hut was in an elevated position with a great with a view of the Albert Nile. 
It was a good size, had a double bed with mozzie net. A small safe, a big bathroom. A really powerful shower with lots of hot water provided from the sola panels and at night -Bats in the roof- well this is Africa!  
Bwana Tembo Safari Camp

Bwana Tembo Safari Camp. Pool will be great when finished 

Bwana Tembo Safari Camp

Bwana Tembo Safari Camp

Bwana Tembo Safari Camp

Bwana Tembo Safari Camp
The bar was quite simple but had all the essentials and Jimmy produced a outstanding Gin and Tonic. The 
food at this camp was really good, the owners are of Italian decent and the food was very Italian, and delicious. 
We stayed two nights at Bwana Tembo, and should have stayed longer as the access to the Murchison Falls Park is perfect. But I misunderstood the logistics of the park so left after two nights to travel through the park to the Victoria Nile. 
4th February 2022
We accessed the Murchison Falls National Park through the Tangi Gate. It cost US $ 40.00 per adult and a charge for the car. 
Map of Murchison Falls National Park
There is a new MAIN road being built through the park. This is to do with the Oil that has been found in Lake Albert. On entry to the park we did not take this road but drove along the river on the Albert Nile Track. Despite the construction and the traffic the road has encouraged, we saw so much game. It is easier to say- we did not see a Leopard or a Cheetah- we saw everything else. This is a game rich park. We called in at the ruined palace that belonged to Idi Amin. 
Murchison Falls National Park 2022

Idi Amins Palace 2022


We crossed the park and used the new bridge to cross the Victoria Nile, the Paraa Ferry is not in use now. We were going to Murchison Falls River Lodge- this was because I did not understand the following....Ugandan Wildlife Authority Fees.  
I though that once in the park one entry fee would suffice, but the fees are based on a 24 hour period. You have to pay for each 24 hours you are on the park. If I had understood this then I would have stayed at Bwana Tembo Camp. 

Monday, 7 March 2022

Uganda. Four Gorillas Lodge, 4 Day Gorilla Flight Safari. Jan 2022

When planning this trip to Uganda one of the main considerations was that my husband wanted to do the four hour Gorilla Habituation Trek and the One Hour Gorilla Trek; but I did not want to do either. British travel agents I contacted were not helpful with this request. The quotes I got still included me permits and trekking for me.  The permits are very expensive @

Gorilla Permit = US 700.

Gorilla Habituation Permit = US 1500.  

Having Googles and looking on TripAdvisor I contacted Four Gorillas Lodge in Bwindi directly.  

Diana from Four Gorillas responded promptly, with a quote for a 4 days Gorilla Safari - one quote to fly in and one to arrive by road. We chose a 4 day gorilla flight safari.

I paid a deposit by bank transfer and the balance had been due upon arrival in Entebbe. This had happened as the evening of our arrival Diana contacted us by text to tell us her contact would come to the hotel with the trek permits and we had to pay the balance. 

29th Jan 2022. 

With the Gorilla Permits safe in our bags, we set off on the short drive to Entebbe airport to get the 07.00 AeroLink flight to Kisoro. 

This was in a Cessna Caravan that seated 12 passengers. It was full, and we made two stops at small airports dropping off and picking up passengers. 

The best bit was the flight over the Queen Elizabeth National Park and flying close to the water in the Kazinga Channel. Hippos, Crocodiles, Elephants, Buffalos and Pelicans were in abundance it was great. 
At Kisoro airport we were met by our driver from the lodge, Ambrose who drove us for the 2 hour journey passing through beautiful scenery.

Uganda 2022

Uganda 2022


Transport to Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 2022 
Arriving at the lodge, I was so please with my choice. I did not really understand the layout of Bwindi forest. This lodge is right next to the border of the forest and very close – just a 20 minute walk  or 10 minute drive from the Rushaga Headquarters and Gate. Its location is perfect, some of the lodges are located a long way from the HQ and gate and the condition of the roads mean that driving is very slow. 

We were met by Diana and Alfred the manager. 

The cottage we were allocated was large, clean, had lots of hot water, the most comfortable king size bed and stylish dressing gowns. From the veranda we had a view of the forest and could see Columbus monkeys in the trees.

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

The Lounge area is comfortable with a fireplace, veranda for meals and a dining area for cooler evenings. There is a bar.

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 
 
Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

Once we settled in we went for a walk along the edge of the forest and could see where the Elephants had come down. There were also hundreds of butterfly's.
We sampled our first meal cooked by the Chef Dennis;
Cabbage rolls with Cheese
Pumpkin Soup with home made rolls
Steak with Red Wine sauce, veg and potatoes
Chocolate pancakes
all served at a table decorated with flowers from the garden. 
This is just a sample of the outstanding food we ate during our stay. Each day we had a full breakfast, three course lunches and four course dinners.  Tea, coffee and water is available all day.
30 January 2022 
The sun was shining it was a gorgeous day. My husband had a wake up call for 05.00 to go to the Gorilla habituation. 
I had a more relaxed start, and after a late breakfast, I went on a bird walk with a local guide. I saw so many birds and we walked through the forest to the Rushanga Gate and back. When I returned to the lodge I was greeted with a cool face cloth and a drink. 
It was late when my husband returned about 15.30. 
he was also greeted in style, cooling face cloth, drink and his boots and trousers taken away to be cleaned.

Four Gorillas Lodge Uganda 

I had made the correct decision not to go trekking, It had been a very hard trek, through virgin forest- no paths- It had taken a long time to find the Gorillas but when found they were mesmerising. 
31 January 2022
The weather was the total opposite from yesterday. it was hammering down with rain, the forest is shrouded in mist, and cold. 
I stayed in bed, whilst my husband went for the Gorilla Trek at 07.00.
It rained all day, I just read my book and enjoyed Dennis wonderful cooking. My husband was back just after lunch time. he said the trek today was easy, on 'paths' or tracks and it only took an hour to find the Gorillas. It was a different experience to the day before, but still magical. 

Dancers in the rain prior to the Gorilla trek, Uganda 



At dinner tonight the fire was lit, and we needed it as it was cold and I enjoyed the hot water bottles in my bed for the same reason. 

1st February 2022 

We were up really early at 04.45 and following another wonderful breakfast we left the lodge at 0600 to get to the airport in Kisoro.  

The service at Four gorillas lodge and from the staff  including Richard and Vincent – and many more whose names I have forgotten- sorry- was outstanding, from cleaning muddy boots to putting hot water bottles in our beds we were treated like royal guests. It had been a truly memorable experience. 

If you are going to Uganda to do a Gorilla trek or just sit and relax like I did, this is the place to stay. If I returned I would stay at Four Gorillas Lodge. 

Today the drive to the airport was hamperd by the condition of the road following the rain yesterday. the roads were very slippy and Ambrose needed the 4x4.

at 09.15 the AroLink Cessna taking us and 10 other passengers back to Entebbe landed. We arrived at Entebbe at 12.00. 

It was odd getting through the airport as domestic and international passengers were all mixed up and it was quite chaotic. 

I had booked another night at the Best Western Premier Garden Inn as it suited our needs. We went for lunch at the rather faded glory that was the  Lake Victoria Hotel. here we discussed our plans for the rest of the two weeks we had in Uganda and decided to rent a car and drive up North to the Murchison Falls area. 

This was all arranged using the good WiFi at the hotel. then we went to The Tipsy Cow Bar to enjoy a bit of local music and drinks.